Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton
Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton was born in Manchester, England. He earned an MA in History at Queens’ College, Cambridge and a PhD in Jewish History at Birkbeck, University of London. For seven years he worked in the Ministry of Justice in London and then studied for four years at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT) in New York. There, he was editor of its journal, a member of its Advanced Kollel and winner of the prize for excellence in Talmudic study.
As part of his pastoral training Rabbi Elton undertook residencies as a hospital chaplain and leading a grief support group. He received Semicha from YCT in June 2015, and in addition has Semicha from Rabbi Chaim Rapoport of London and Rabbi Natan Greenberg of Bat Ayin in Israel.
In addition to his 2014 book, Britain’s Chief Rabbis and the Religious Character of Anglo-Jewry, 1880–1970, he has authored several articles on Anglo-Jewish religious history. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society of London, has been a Visiting Scholar at New York University and Columbia University and a Fellow at the Tikvah Fund, where he met his wife, Hinda. He served as Rabbinic Fellow at Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan until he was appointed Chief Minister of the Great Synagogue in June 2015.
Rabbi Elton and Hinda are excited to be leading the Great Synagogue. They are dedicated to creating a warm and vibrant community, with a love for Torah, mitzvot and mutual support. Rabbi Elton is passionate about promoting excellence in Jewish learning, inspiring prayer and pastoral care.
Please feel free to contact Rabbi Elton via email to firstname.lastname@example.org about any matter, large or small.
Rev David Hilton
Rev David Hilton joined The Great Synagogue in 2008.
Born and educated in London, David has been professionally employed in sales and marketing and for some years has run his own highly successful kosher catering company which, among other contracts, has provided 6000 meals per day over the past nine years for the English Limmud conference.
His musical career began at the age of six when he joined his local synagogue choir and by the age of eight he was a boy soloist at Covent Garden.
At 18 he won several opera scholarships and was admitted into the master class of famed singer Titto Gobbi.
Unfortunately the death of his father meant he could not continue as a professional singer but he has retained membership of major Jewish choirs as a soloist since 1964.
From 1975 he has acted as chazan for the Mill Hill Synagogue and has davened for the High Holydays in Birmingham, Edgware, Mill Hill and Auckland (for eight years) where he worked with Rabbi Lawrence .
He has appeared in countless charity productions over the years and has regularly given solo performances.
David has also taught numerous Bar Mitzvah pupils as well as taken many adult education classes and served as co-chairman of Limmud with which he has been involved for 20 years.
He ran the senior cheder at Mill Hill Synagogue for seven years and instituted a Bar Mitzvah Breakfast program for boys and their fathers.
His wife Stephanie is a specialist in the education of autistic children, so David has also been involved with both handicapped and behaviourally disturbed children.
Cantor Joshua Weinberger joined the Great Synagogue in 2014. Cantor Joshua Weinberger is quickly gaining a reputation for possessing a fine tenor voice, being innately musical and a Cantorial style that combines traditional and modern melodies.
Josh's love of music started at a young age and he has been performing in school and on the stage since the age of 10. His love for Cantorial music began when he regularly sang solos in the synagogues that his father, a regular leader of services and the possessor of a fine voice, officiated.
After the HSC, Josh studied 1.5 years at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Israel. He then stayed a further 1.5 years to study at the prestigious Tel Aviv Cantorial Institute, headed by world renowned Cantor, Naftali Herstick. It was at the institute that Josh advanced his knowledge of Cantorial repertoire and understanding of Nusach (traditional prayer modes). He also had the opportunity to study with Raymond Goldstein, the composer and arranger in residence at the institute and the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem.
Josh has been engaged to sing at many major communal events and proudly represents the Great Synagogue in doing so. Josh’s repertoire spans many genres and languages, including traditional Hebrew liturgy, Opera, Lieder, Broadway, Israeli and many more. As the Cantor of the Great, Josh officiates at weddings and looks forward to introducing new repertoire for the choir and cantor to enhance services.
Josh has completed a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in marketing and management.
Josh is married to Gila who recently completed her masters in clinical psychology. They have just welcomed little Adira into their family and couldn’t be happier.
Michael Sassoon joined the team at The Great Synagogue in 2017 as a community educator, leading the shule’s Bar and Bat Mitzvah programs at Reddam House, Bellevue Hill Public School and Rose Bay Public School. After attaining a Bachelors degree in Commerce and garnering considerable professional experience in marketing, Michael spent two years studying Talmud, Halachah, Tanach, and Jewish Philosophy with Rabbi Benjamin Blech and other inspiring teachers at New York's Yeshiva University. He also took classes at the Belz School of Music and proudly participated in their choir. Later Michael spent a year in Israel at Ulpan Mila and Bar Ilan University during which he met his wife, Atalia.
He returned to Sydney to complete a Masters in Teaching and through this, pursue his passion for education that began with Bar Mitzvah training in both Ashkenazic and Sephardic traditions.
He has been engaged in teaching and learning across all ages both informally and formally, covering both secular and Jewish studies. He brings with him a teaching background that spans Bnei Akiva, Academy BJE, Manhattan Jewish Experience (ages 20-40), and most recently Masada College, where he taught both Commerce and Jewish Life. Michael draws together fascinating content, a focus on strong skill development, and engaging, multi-sensory experiences to enrich students' encounters with Judaism at schools around Sydney as part of The Great Synagogue's Bar and Bat Mitzvah program.
Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple AO RFD
Rabbi Apple retired in 2005 after many years as Australia’s highest-profile rabbi and a leading spokesman for Judaism.
After heading London congregations at Bayswater and Hampstead, he was senior rabbi of the Great Synagogue from 1972-2005, and was the guide and mentor of other synagogues and organisations, including the Women’s Tefillah Group.
He was born and educated in Melbourne and also studied in London. He has degrees in arts, law, history, religion and education, a Doctorate of Laws honoris causa from NSW University and is an Honorary Fellow of Sydney University.
He was an army reserve chaplain for 15 years and from 1988-2006 senior rabbi to the Australian Defence Force. He had two terms of office as chairman of the Religious Advisory Committee to the Services.
He has taught at Sydney and NSW Universities and is Master of Mandelbaum House at Sydney University. He has lectured at universities and seminaries in several countries.
For 30 years he was judge/registrar of the Sydney Beth Din. He is life rabbinic governor of the Organisation of Rabbis of Australian and New Zealand, of which he had two terms as president. He is patron and past president of the Australian Jewry and NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, and has held office in many public bodies.
He has had a long involvement in inter-faith dialogue and is joint president of the Australian Council of Christians and Jews and a life member and former chairman of the NSW Council. He was a founder of the Christian-Jewish Luncheon Club in Sydney and of the Australian National Dialogue of Christians, Muslims and Jews.
In Freemasonry he is Past Junior Grand Warden and Past Grand Chaplain of the United Grand Lodge of NSW and the ACT.2
He writes the weekly Oz Torah, with a world-wide email circulation. He has written articles, academic papers and books and has frequently appeared on radio and television.
An Officer of the Order of Australia, he holds the Reserve Force Decoration, the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal and the Centenary of Federation Medal.
He and his wife Marian have four adult children and a number of grandchildren.
Take a look at the new OzTorah website – http://www.oztorah.com. It contains a searchable archive of Rabbi Apple's Torah essays, "Ask the Rabbi" pieces and feature articles. We are in the process of updating the site with content from the OzTorah emails from the past ten years – join our RSS feed to view the latest updates.